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Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks: Tales of Important Geological Puzzles and the People Who Solved Them

by Donald Prothero Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 368 pages
AU$68.00 NZ$72.17
Product Status: Available in Approx 7 days
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Every rock is a tangible trace of the earth’s past. In The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks, Donald R. Prothero tells the fascinating stories behind the discoveries that shook the foundations of geology. In twenty-five chapters - each about a particular rock, outcrop, or geologic phenomenon - Prothero recounts the scientific detective work that took us from the unearthing of exemplary specimens to tectonic shifts in how we view our planet and history. Prothero follows in the footsteps of the scientists who asked - and answered - geology’s biggest questions: How do we know how old the earth is? What happened to the supercontinent Pangea? How did ocean rocks end up at the top of Mount Everest? What can we learn about our planet from meteorites and moon rocks?


The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks answers these questions through expertly chosen case studies, such as Pliny the Elder’s firsthand account of the eruption of Vesuvius; the granite outcrops that led a Scottish scientist to theorize that the landscapes he witnessed were far older than Noah’s Flood; the gypsum deposits under the Mediterranean Sea that indicate that it was once a desert; and how trying to date the age of meteorites revealed the dangers of lead poisoning. Each of these breakthroughs filled in a piece of the puzzle that is the earth, with scientific discoveries dovetailing with each other to offer increasingly solid evidence of the geologic past. Summarizing a wealth of information in an entertaining, approachable style, The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks is essential reading for the armchair geologist, the rock hound, and all who are curious about the earth beneath their feet.

PrefaceAcknowledgments 1. Volcanic Tuff: VulcanGÇÖs Wrath: The Eruption of Vesuvius2. Native Copper: The Iceman and the Island of Copper3. Cassiterite: The GÇ£Isles of Tinn++? and the Bronze Age4. Angular Unconformity: GÇ£No Vestige of a Beginningn++?: The Immensity of Geologic Time5. Igneous Dikes: The GÇ£EarthGÇÖs Great Heat Enginen++?: The Origin of Magmas6. Coal: The Rock That Burns Fires the Industrial Revolution7. Jurassic World: The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Rocks of Britain8. Radioactive Uranium: Clocks in Rocks: Arthur Holmes and the Age of the Earth9. Chondritic Meteorites: Messengers From Space: The Origin of the Solar System10. Iron-Nickel Meteorites: The Cores of Other Planets 11. Moon Rocks: Green Cheese or Anorthosite: The Origin of the Moon12. Zircons: Early Oceans and Life? Evidence in a Grain of Sand13. Stromatolites: Microbial Condos: Cyanobacteria and the Oldest Life14. Banded Iron Formation: Mountains of Iron: The EarthGÇÖs Early Atmosphere15. Turbidites: Archean Sediments and Submarine Landslides16. Diamictites: Tropical Glaciers and the Snowball Earth17. Exotic Terranes: Paradox in Rocks: Wandering Fossils and Traveling Landmasses18. Jigsaw-Puzzle Bedrock: Alfred Wegener and Continental Drift19. Chalk: The Cretaceous Seaway and Greenhouse Planet20. The Iridium Layer: The Death of the Dinosaurs21. Lodestones: How Paleomagic Launched Plate Tectonics22. Blueschists: The Puzzle of Subduction Zones23. Transform Faults: Earthquake! The San Andreas Fault24. Messinian Evaporites: The Mediterranean Was a Desert25. Glacial Erraticts: A Poet, a Professor, a Politician, a Janitor, and the Discovery of the Ice AgesIndex

Geologist Donald Prothero has crafted a rock-solid premise for this delightful book.
Donald R. Prothero has taught paleontology and geology for almost four decades. He is adjunct professor of geological sciences at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, adjunct professor of astronomy and earth sciences at Mt. San Antonio College, and research associate in vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. His Columbia University Press books include Bringing Fossils to Life: An Introduction to Paleobiology (third edition, 2013); The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution (2015); and Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (second edition, 2017).